Consultant Firm Linked to Jarvis Could End Up in Woo Camp

TIMES STAFF WRITER

WOOING THE JARVIS VOTE: How to get moderate Democrats in the San Fernando Valley to vote for Los Angeles City Councilman Michael Woo, a liberal Democrat, for mayor? Hire the political team that's been joined at the hip to the Howard Jarvis tax-revolt movement.

What to do about the Valley is a hot topic in the Woo camp as it heads for its June 8 mayoral matchup with Republican businessman Richard Riordan. In the primary, Riordan got 42.4% of the vote from the four council districts wholly in the Valley; Woo got only 13%.

Improving Woo's Valley numbers is where Butcher, Forde & Mollrich could come in.

This Newport Beach-based political consulting firm is widely known for its pioneering use of hit-mail, its knack for targeting Republicans and moderate Democrats, and its ties to Jarvis, California's late tax-revolt guru.

Woo's campaign staff has talked with Butcher, Forde about buying onto a slate mailer the firm would aim at fiscal conservatives, Woo aide Vicky Rideout confirmed this week. "As of now, there's no relationship," she added. "But whether there will be in the future remains open."

Meanwhile, it's the Riordan campaign that's actually been endorsed by the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn.

But it's also the Riordan campaign that apparently angered Butcher, Forde--the Jarvis group's alter ego--by refusing to buy onto a slate mailer the firm proposed to send to thousands of Jarvis-ites. Sources say this rebuff prompted Butcher, Forde to do the unlikely about-face and turn to Woo.

Riordan's people have refused to comment on the matter and Butcher, Forde is also being uncommunicative.

Meanwhile, Joel Fox, president of the Howard Jarvis Taxpayers Assn., said his group would look askance at a Butcher, Forde-Woo team-up.

In fact, the Jarvis group might not sell its mailing list of its tax-fighting members to Butcher, Forde if it were to be used to help Woo against Riordan, Fox said. "We've always sold Butcher, Forde our lists when they've asked," Fox said. "But I'd have to think long and hard about it if that's what they'd use it for."

Footnote: Butcher, Forde ran the 1981 campaign that defeated Woo's first bid to oust ex-Councilwoman Peggy Stevenson. Woo later complained that that campaign was tainted with racism.

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TRAITORS OR CONVERTS?The June 8 election finale between Los Angeles City Councilwoman Joy Picus and her former aide, Laura Chick, is looking like a nasty family feud as a number of other erstwhile Picus deputies join the Chick campaign.

The latest to enlist in the Chick insurgency is Jackie Brainard, Picus' press deputy from August, 1989, to October, 1991.

Brainard has temporarily forsaken the Utah resort town where she had retired to become Chick's press-handler.

"I don't dislike Joy," Brainard said. "But there aren't many council members who can serve as long as she has without getting incumbent-itis. She actually thinks things are better now in the Valley than they were 20 years ago. Ask her; she'll tell you."

Also now trooping under the Chick banner: Julie Gertler, a private planning consultant, and the Rev. Kirt Anderson, head of one of Ventura's largest congregations. Both were former chief field deputies to the embattled 3rd District lawmaker. Holly Azzari, Picus' former liaison to the district's large and politically powerful senior citizen community, has also endorsed Chick.

"The district needs a problem-solver, not a problem-maker," said Gertler, a Picus aide for four years. Citing the history of land-use brouhahas that have marked Picus' reign, Gertler said Picus too often sees City Hall issues as a clash "between good and evil."

Anderson, who testified against Picus in the Warner Ridge controversy and was her chief field deputy from December, 1987, to August, 1989, said he found Picus to be someone who "spent most of her time trying to read the political sands" and seeking "the parade she could get in front of."

Picus refuses to comment on why these ex-staffers have joined the rival camp: "I have nothing to say about it."

But Picus will tick off the names of nine former aides, including her daughter-in-law, who are working for her reelection or contributing money.

For Chick, however, there are harsh words. It is a "betrayal" for Chick to run against her, Picus has said.

This 3rd District race may have to end up in divorce court.

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THE VEGGIE FACTOR: If the political testimony of friends and ex-employees is telling, how about that of neighbors? Does familiarity breed contempt or kudos? And what about rutabagas?

In her home precinct, the 62-year-old Picus got 48.7% of the votes cast in the April 20 primary. That showing allowed the four-term incumbent to finish first in her own Woodland Hills precinct, running strongly ahead there of the 36.7% she got districtwide.

Meanwhile, Los Angeles Police Sgt. Dennis Zine and homeowner activist Robert Gross, who came in third (20.1%) and fourth (7.7%), respectively, in the primary, were the first to break the tape in balloting in their home precincts. Zine got 32.4% of the vote in his West Hills precinct, while Woodland Hills resident Gross won 37.4% in his.

And Chick? The 48-year-old challenger finished second in her own Reseda precinct with 17.7% of the vote, while Picus scored 33.5% there to finish first on Chick's home turf.

But in all fairness, Chick's political play may be handicapped by the rutabaga factor.

At a political forum last month, Picus invoked the power of legumes, tubers and other produce when she reminded a Woodland Hills crowd of the times she had talked about community issues while browsing for veggies at the market.

And, as Picus has frequently observed, it was only last summer that Chick moved into the 3rd District, from her Sherman Oaks home to a condo on Lindley Avenue.

Maybe when Chick has bought as many rutabagas in Reseda as Picus has bought in Woodland Hills, she'll get more of her neighbors' votes.

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